With Jerribeth defeated, we quickly ransacked her room to find some codes and secret signs the Templars use (should help the efforts of the Crusade) and some other oddities, including a necklace that screamed of magic but I couldn’t figure out its purpose. Pocketed for the future because I’m not sure it’s safe.
Checked the rest of this side and found, beyond the cells, an icky room with two humanoid-corpses and writings carved into the back wall. Those with better knowledge of anatomy than I realised the bodies had been alive when their organs were removed. Made me feel sad and ill together. Evander looked at the writing and something in him snapped – it was wrong, all wrong; unfinished; didn’t make sense; not right. Alexei used stone shape to destroy the wall: as best we could tell from Evander’s expletive-laden rant, it was the beginnings of a spell to loosen all natives of Golarion from this plane – to make it easier to teleport us to other planes.* That didn’t seem like a good thing to leave half-finished in a demon stronghold.
After that, we headed back to sneak to the other – but the demons guarding the cathedral in the centre spotted us as we tried to figure a way to sneak past and charged. Didn’t take long to deal with them.
The cathedral was impressive – pillars lining the way to a large altar with another statue to the demon lord Baphomet. The high, vaulted ceiling was painted with stars. Two small rooms lead off from either side – one, strangely enough, seemed to be marked with a magic circle against evil… The other, a meditation room of sorts, with cat-o’-nine-tails and other creepy things, most notably, a creepy book written in Abyssal – pocketed with the necklace because I could hear discussion outside in the cathedral itself about removing the Baphomet statue. And the next moment, a deafening, shattering crash as Evander took his flail to the statue’s leg and managed to topple it.
As the sound died away and our hearing began to return to normal, we knew the noise would have drawn the attention of every remaining accursed demon in the place. We took up defensive positions and waited for the onslaught. It was not long in coming.
I started by setting up a mind fog on the stairs to the room. It was swiftly dispelled and I hid** as the mages in the first wave stone-shaped away a section of the wall… the fighters – Kieran, Aaron and Evander – quickly dispatched the Templars who rushed through. Some kind of noxious magical smell left Aaron vomiting in the corner and nearly took out Alexei as well – in defence, he threw up a blade barrier, circling the stairs. Demons rushed through it, several falling as the blades sliced through them. Those that made it were quickly taken out and Kieran ran through the blades – fending them off and letting his shiny, shiny adamantine armour deal with the worst of it – to take out the few demons remaining. I used my shiny new Sceptre of Heaven to Holy Smite the group, and Alexei summoned a demon of his own to help.
It was hard, with Aaron nearly being killed by a barrage of magic missiles, but at the end we were victorious and no wounds we couldn’t patch up. This should make the rest of our explorations a bit easier, at least! But it’s a shame we didn’t manage to take any alive for questioning.
*I may have misunderstood – Evander is controlled by Husbit as Alexei’s cohort but he was voiced by the GM with the instruction from Husbit (who’d been sercret-noted what Evander learned) to “relay that info but as if you have tourrettes”. And I was tired and neither I nor Svetlana has much knowledge of the planes and I had several people trying to explain so got a bit muddled. I *think* the spell would turn all natives into outsiders, but that’s a bit of a guess.
** Svetlana is not very good in combat – particularly in comparison to Kieran and Evander. It did bother me for a while and everyone blamed the fact she’s multi-class, but I’ve realised she’s very good outside of combat and I’m focussing on that. It can mean that combat-heavy sessions (like this one descended into) can risk being a little dull, but I got Husbit to let me roll some of the damage for his blade barrier shield so at least I felt a bit involved. I’m sure there are other ways I can continue to do that whilst keeping Svetlana safe (and in reserve if the party need that sneak attack surprise!)